I’M BACK! After a laborious month off I’m smashing through your front door like Jack Nicholson to kidnap your ignorant asses back to flavortown baby! IT’S BEEN TOO LONG. Ok, lets talk about Amherst Massachusetts, what do we know about it? It is the home of UMASS and the town got its name from Jeffery Amherst, who gave smallpox blankets to Native Americans who resided in the territory before him, delightful isn’t it! Well today it’s a wonderful little town with a few noteworthy restaurants, one being Lumber Yard. Lumber Yard is the brainchild of Rolf and Cindy Nelson, a husband and wife tag team power couple that also run a Restaurant on Nantucket called Sconset Café. Here’s a little bio on the two of them taken from the Lumber Yard website.
When I walked into the restaurant it was very charming and cozy, welcoming and nicely decorated. I was greeted by Cindy who wanted to seat me at a horribly lit table; I disagreed and asked to be sat at a table with a light above it. Cindy shot me a sassy glare and asked and questioned my request. I replied with, “I need to take pictures because I’m writing a piece about your restaurant.” Cindy cackled like a crazy person, looked me up and down and said, “You? A food writer?” I answered with a dry and sad, “yes.” She saw the seriousness in my face and responded with, “Alright then, right this way Mister food writer Grippo.” In any other situation I would have been rubbed the wrong way but Cindy was funny and playful about it, and if the food sucked I could ream her out later, it didn’t, and throughout the night she proved herself to be a sweetheart, shall we?
First was the sausage Bolognese, first dish and I was already sold. Until this night I hadn’t had a pappardelle that I had really been over the moon about. This was the perfect pasta dish. I want to reiterate… the perfect pasta dish. This sausage was so salty and tasty, right up my alley and a perfect way to start my night, I want to return just for this dish. Next were the mussels, these particular moules had bacon and apple in the broth, again, sold. Two nice pieces of baguette to dip made me very happy as well. Rounding out the starters was the poutine. Poutine is a dish that is easily fucked up. People will make the gravy gross, or use shitty curds, or just make the fries soggy, that was not the case on this night. The gravy was damn near perfect, the cheese curds were local and perfectly portioned. I don’t know what unicorns ass they pulled the rest of this dish out of, but to the last fry covered in gravy, they were all still crisp! What kind of sorcery fucking Massachusetts witchcraft madness is this, how is that even scientifically possible?!?! Hats off to Executive Chef Dave Cordaro, you poutine wizard you.
Next were the entrees, first up were the short ribs. This was a perfectly balanced meat dish. The grits and the pickled carrots accentuated this dish nicely; the acidity and tartness took your mind of how heavy a dish this actually was. A dish like this would usually have a little left to be wrapped and taken home, not this night. Next was the duck breast. I’m a sucker for duck and I’m always curious to see how people are preparing it because in New England, it is on 90% of all fine dining restaurants menus. This duck was cooked perfectly, crisp outside, tender steak-like center and served alongside some quince-pear compote, a winner all day.
Finally was one little dessert, sour cream ice cream served sundae style with fudge and a couple citrusy madeline cookies, the perfect topper to a great meal. Some may say, “Ew, sour cream ice cream, that’s gross.” Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it scumbag!
I will be taking a trip to Sconset Café this summer to eat because I’m pretty sure that experience will be as good as this one. I hereby give Lumber Yard...
This has been another installment of Benn Breaks Bread. Thanks for reading. Join me next week as I tell you about the best meal I’ve had in 2016, and quite possibly the second best meal I’ve had in my life, and I’m not going to tell you where!